Today on my writing journey I’m thinking about where and when I write. This was sparked by Goodson’s book, but also by Maryann’s comment about the role of place. When I wrote my blog yesterday I was thinking of the idyllic writing place, the one that looms large in my mind. After Maryann responded to my post I began thinking of the places where I feel limited in writing and my offices at school and at university were top of the list. I wonder why it is that I don’t feel happy about writing in my university office- it is after all the quintessential room of one’s own. I have the space to myself, a door I can shut and my third floor view overlooks some trees with a new building gradually taking shape in the background. Yet, despite this, there is something about this space that prevents me from writing.
Distractions seem to occur more in this space than in others –I am prone to getting distracted by my computer, the ‘ping’ of email, the lure of Facebook and Twitter, and my instant messaging, who knows what exciting fragments of information might be winding their way through cyberspace towards me? There might be a link to a media report, a post from another academic, a work related email about an opportunity and I have difficulty in shutting off this white noise. I suffer from the idea that I need to respond to all things immediately and then complain later that my life is never free from distraction and interruption. It’s a twisted self-fulfilling prophecy that I seem less likely to resist in my work office.
My office is near the photocopier and my ear is attuned to the voices that filter through the door – the sound of a colleague I haven’t seen and want to have a quick word with, the voice of a student who I need to chase up- I hear them and the patter of footsteps in the hall outside and I move from my desk and begin talking. So when I want to write, I pack up necessary books, grab my laptop and head for home. At home I perch myself at the table, dog at my feet, stereo playing Band of Horses and here, in this space, I find myself able to write.
I have developed a tradition of formulating everything I want to write in my head first and then sitting down and writing it in one big slab. It was a strategy that worked well for me when I was doing my PhD and had what seemed like endless time to write. My research journal even has a stick figure me, sitting at a desk, my computer a loom for the writing piece I will create -the artist with hours to spend crafting her words and spinning her tales. Now though, this concept doesn’t work so well as my days are crammed with teaching, meetings and a range of competing demands. I wonder if the process of engaging in Goodson’s writing exercises will aid me in breaking down the tradition of trying to formulate everything in my head first?
In other places though I still find myself thinking of writing. When I’m walking the dog, when I’m doing Pilates, when I’m driving to work or when I’m perched on the back of my husband’s motorbike, I begin to write. In these moments, my mind flickers to half-written papers, germs of ideas and words begin to stitch themselves together – a constant tapestry of construction as I weave and reweave the words.